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Guest Everdawn

Strange response

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Guest Everdawn

At a recent meeting, a member of a subcommittee gave a report, and made a motion.  During the discussion, that member was asked a question for clarification on the purpose of the motion.  The member responded "Under Roberts Rules of Order, I do not have to answer any question made of me."

This is odd for a number of reasons. The member could have answered "I don't have the information you are asking for."  Instead, the implication was that he did know the answer to the question, and was deliberately withholding it.

I'm not saying that the member had to answer the question, but it strikes me as an odd invocation of Robert's Rules.  Does RR have anything to say about this?

 

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1 hour ago, Guest Everdawn said:

At a recent meeting, a member of a subcommittee gave a report, and made a motion.  During the discussion, that member was asked a question for clarification on the purpose of the motion.  The member responded "Under Roberts Rules of Order, I do not have to answer any question made of me."

This is odd for a number of reasons. The member could have answered "I don't have the information you are asking for."  Instead, the implication was that he did know the answer to the question, and was deliberately withholding it.

I'm not saying that the member had to answer the question, but it strikes me as an odd invocation of Robert's Rules.  Does RR have anything to say about this?

 

Nothing in RONR requires that a committee's reporting member respond to questions, and so, in this respect, he was right.

It makes no difference one way or the other, but are you sure this was a subcommittee and not a plain old committee? 

 

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If, as described in the original posting (OP), the person who made the motion had the floor and was debating, he could decline to be interrupted (RONR, p. 295) mainly, I suppose, because the additional tine for a question and answer would come out of his debate time allotment.

And, as Dan noted, there is no rule requiring an answer be given.   Other than the interruption business, there is no (Miranda) rule giving a member the "right" to remain silent either.  (His words might be used against him!)

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1 hour ago, Guest Everdawn said:

I'm not saying that the member had to answer the question, but it strikes me as an odd invocation of Robert's Rules.  

Does RR have anything to say about this?

 

"Is it odd?"

Yes. -- I've never heard anyone say such a thing, in 20+ years of sitting in on countless meetings of countless organizations.

So, you have your answer. The strange reply has no direct link to any text in Robert's Rules of Order that I know of.

***

Perhaps you misunderstood the reply, since it is so strange. Perhaps the member was implying, "This is debate time, and I choose to have nothing to do with this."

Or, ". . nothing to do with YOU!" (i.e., a personal grudge against the asker of the question.)

This might be more of a psychological problem than a parliamentary problem.

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I agree with the previous answers.  RONR give members the right to ask questions, but nothing in it requires a member to respond to questions.

Guest Everdawn, you might read Section 33 in RONR regarding Requests and Inquiries, particularly pages 292-295.

To elaborate on the correct response by Dr. Stackpole (JStackpo), if the person who made the motion had the floor, the time consumed by the question and answer would come out of his time.  However, if he has yielded the floor and a member rises during debate with a request for information (formerly called a "point of information"), the time consumed comes out of the time of the member who has risen to ask the question. 

In neither case, however, is anyone obliged to respond to questions. You can certainly use said refusal as a factor in deciding how to vote on the motion, as can the other members of the committee.  You can even refer to the failure or refusal to provide pertinent information on the issue in your debate.

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Guest Everdawn

Thanks all.  It was a weird interaction, for sure.  I only wish I had misintepreted it... very awkward, and I expect that the secretary will record in the minutes that the question was asked and the speaker declined to answer.

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